Saturday night saw Rough Trade graced with the presence of Durand Jones & The Indications- a soulful five-piece from across the pond who were visiting Notts as part of a mini European tour ahead of the release of their second LP, ‘American Love Call’.
The band met as students at Indiana University and originally didn’t expect to pursue music as a legitimate career, but changed their minds when their dynamic live shows and the extensive playing of their 2016 self-titled debut in local record stores rapidly increased their popularity. And it’s easy to see why; Durand Jones & The Indications are old-school brought up to date with a bang, effortlessly blending late 60s/early 70s soul with contemporary R&B via gospel music, creating a sound which is recognisable, but revamped and undeniably groovy.
The band acknowledge that the way they treat their influences is much like the way hip-hop producers sample different genres to create something new- this is obvious from their joint Spotify playlist ‘Indications Inspirations’, which features the likes of Four Tops, War and Marvin Gaye alongside contemporary artists such as Blood Orange, Arctic Monkeys and OutKast.
Although it’s Jones who provides the husky lead vocals, drummer Aaron Frazer’s surprising falsetto is often the standout of the tracks on which he features, while the rest of the band- guitarist Blake Rhein, bassist Kyle Houpt and keyboardist Jordan Hubler- get the spotlight during frequent instrumental sections. This kind of collaborative approach evidently feeds in to the band’s live performance- as much as Durand Jones & The Indications had a commanding stage presence, they interacted with the audience as you would a group of mates, each taking it in turns to introduce the tracks and tell us a little bit about them.
They kicked off with a few from their currently unreleased new album, with “Walk Away” blending seamlessly into “Don’t You Know”. It’s easy to see why the latter was chosen as the lead single from ‘American Love Call’- the opening chords sound like something vaguely familiar, then the vocals come in and it becomes clear that the harmony of Jones’ smooth, full tones with Frazer’s strong falsetto isn’t something you’ve heard before.
After this warm up, the band took the opportunity to introduce themselves and say a bit about the USA and its current political climate (drawing links to the UK’s own), which was the inspiration behind their next song, “How Can I Be Sure?”. The band’s easy transition from such a modern topic back to the romantic and more classic soul-sounding “Can’t Keep My Cool” is evidence of their versatility, and cleverly ensured they kept the audience’s undivided attention. “Giving Up” was the first song The Indications recorded and a fan favourite; its combination of honest lyrics with a synthy, organ-like keyboard is reminiscent of Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness”, and in his live performance Jones certainly channelled that urgent, raw emotion.
Their final song of the night, “Groovy Babe”, can only be described as doing exactly what it says on the tin- buckets of energy, a strong beat and James Brown-esque levels of funk got the whole crowd moving and rounded off their set triumphantly. However rather than disappearing after they got off-stage, all five band members hung around to chat to the audience and sign the limited edition 7” singles of new tracks “Morning in America” and “Cruisin’ to The Park” we’d been given to keep us going until the release of ‘American Love Call’ on March 1st.
Jones mentioned how they’d love to come back and play another venue in Notts sometime soon (Bodega and Rescue Rooms, watch this space!) as well as a more extensive UK tour, but after a few more European dates this month they’re heading home for now. No doubt they’ll need the rest- the release of ‘American Love Call’, the inevitable album tour and the promise of more live shows and festivals means Durand Jones & The Indications are sure to have a very busy year.